Kiev may appeal to the Stockholm court of arbitration to fix a temporary price for Russian gas and conditions for deliveries to Ukraine if an interim gas deal is not reached soon with Russia, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
The European Union is trying to broker a deal to resolve a standoff between the two countries after Russia shut off gas deliveries to Ukraine in June over what it said were more than $5 billion in unpaid bills.
Ukraine faces the possibility of energy shortages this winter if no deal is reached, risking a replay of the disruptions to Europe's gas supplies seen in 2006 and 2009.
Kiev is waiting for a final decision from the Stockholm court on an appeal it lodged last June for a review of a 2009 deal between Ukraine and Russia's Gazprom which set a price of $485 per thousand cubic metres - way above the market level.
Meanwhile, the European Commission is seeking to get Russia and Ukraine to sign an interim agreement as a step towards resolving the long-standing price row.
And though Russia and Ukraine have agreed a price of $385 per thousand cubic metres under a proposed interim agreement, the two countries have not agreed conditions for delivery or a time frame for the price to be effective.
Yatseniuk, speaking at a government meeting on Wednesday, reiterated that Ukraine was still 5 billion cubic metres of gas short of what was needed to see the former Soviet republic through the winter.
He said Ukraine could continue to work with the European Commission on the interim agreement or, if no such deal could be reached, it could ask the Stockholm court to step in with a provisional ruling "to set the price and conditions for deliveries of natural gas" until it delivered its final verdict.
Russia is Europe's biggest supplier of oil, coal and natural gas, and its pipelines through Ukraine are a political focus as Europe imposes sanctions on Russia over its seizure of Crimea.